The idea of Reclaim Hosting as a kind of independent record label for ed-tech is an idea I’ve been playing with since a talk at Davidson College more than a year ago. This past fall Adam Croom and I explored it further in relationship to Indie Ed-Tech as a movement, which was punctuated by Audrey Watters epic, aspirational post on Indie Ed-Tech in December. About the same time I was talking with Bryan Mathers about using the logo he designed for us, which I love.
It’s pretty apparent from our new logo that we have decided to run with the whole independent Ed-Tech idea. But when Bryan and I got to talking about the idea it expanded beyond just a logo or a label. I wanted a sense of physical space where you would browse and explore the work of others, not unlike a record store. So we started talking about a visual series that would establish a sense of a cultural hub for the various work happening around ed-tech. If we run with the independent music scene, one such place could be a venue where bands play (I’ll return to this at length in a subsequent post) and another could be a record store. I recently blogged about the band Unwound (a favorite from the 1990s) because Reclaim named a server after them—another Reclaim first! One of the videos I linked to in that post was a short of Unwound performing live at the San Diego record store Off The Record in 1997. A good example of a record store being both a distributor and venue for indie music. So what if we had a Reclaim Records? Maybe an establishing shot of the facade of the building, Bryan?
So awesome, what a cool collaboration we have going with Bryan right now. And you’ll notice the albums in the window, everything from Duke Ellington to The Velvet Underground to Sonic Youth to The Flaming Lips, interspersed with the various icons of popular open source applications used at Reclaim. An idea resonant of the window display for OU Create in the University One store at the University of Oklahoma.
In fact, that window display in the Reclaim Records sketch Bryan did led us to start talking about the display not simply being representative of iconic applications or independent albums such as Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation…
…but also as an expression of the independent, cutting edge work happening at various campuses. The idea being that Reclaim Records is a place that highlights the awesome work happening at various schools through a catalog of sorts. So, to stick with the example of Oklahoma, Adam and I have talked about the fact that The Flaming Lips are a local band from Oklahoma City, helping to influence and shape the alternative culture of the city. When visiting last January we went to check-out their art gallery/performance space The Womb in OKC. So, while talking with Bryan about this idea, he mocked up an example of a cover of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and re-titled it University of Oklahoma.
But simply imitating existing album artwork wouldn’t be the point, it’s the idea that interested groups, universities, etc. would submit their own catalog entry and artwork. What would a SPLOT album cover look like? What would BCcampus’s OpenEd album look like? What would Lumen Learning’s album look like? What would the ALTLab at VCU’s Rampages artwork look like?
What’s more, Reclaim Records could even syndicate the awesome work happening in these various communities. Once again using OU Create as a model, what would if features blogs like This Week on OU Create were aggregated as part of a schools catalog at reclaim Records? Extrapolate on that and you have curated feeds from scores of universities that frame the work they’re doing based on principles, an aesthetic, and a broader sense of sharing their vision with a community. That’s right, a scene of sorts that asks ed-tech folks to imagine their work beyond the corporate labels of tools and products and inspire that work with a mission.
Such an approach could open up all sorts of possibilities for encouraging a community of experimentation, alternatives, and diverse approaches to the work we do. Not to mention building a broader creative approach to the work we do just seems like more fun. I love trying to push on this metaphor of an independent Ed-Tech scene of sorts. I understand all metaphors have their limits, but it’s the spirit of the work that grounds any movement—and if we approach it from a position of fun and creativity there is much to be gained.